Oscar 2014, Best Actor: Genius at Work

Benedict Cumberbatch

Now that the Toronto Film Festival is concluded, the Oscar picture has come somewhat more into focus. There are no new pictures in the Best Picture landscape, although The Imitation Game, which won the Toronto’s main prize, seems now like a safe bet for a nomination. That film also seems to have the frontrunner for Best Actor, one of a few films that feature brilliant British scientists (and one artist).

Here are my very early predictions for the Best Actor race, in alphabetical order:

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher: This film is gathering steam as a Best Picture contender, and there are three actors that could be vying for nominations. Carell is the focus, though, as a Du Pont heir who murders a wrestler. The normally comedic actor has been given a fake nose (an addition of makeup seems to help actors with Oscar) and unless this category gets overloaded, he should be safe.

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game: Cumberbatch seems to be everywhere, and in just a few years has made himself a ubiquitous presence in film and TV. He just won an Emmy for his work on Sherlock Holmes, and has the man who cracked the German’s code during World War II, only to be later arrested for being a homosexual, this seems like the kind of role the Academy loves.

Michael Keaton, Birdman: Keaton has had a strange career, with some incredible highs and some puzzling lows, but he has never had an Oscar nomination. That should change with this meta role, playing a washed up actor who was once famous for playing a superhero. If a Brit doesn’t win this award, Keaton should.

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything: Redmayne plays a young Stephen Hawking, at the time of his romance with his first wife. Playing real people is catnip to the Academy–would Hawking attend the Oscars if the film got nominated? I’m not sure if the film includes the beginning of his ALS, but if it does, it can’t hurt Redmayne’s chances.

Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner: Spall plays British painter J.M.W. Turner, and while this doesn’t sound like thrill-a-minute cinema, there is a tradition of painters in films, ranging from Michelangelo to Andy Warhol. Apparently Turner was quite a curmudgeon, which probably gives Spall a lot of scenes to steal.

Also possible: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel; David Oyelowo, Selma; Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice; and Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood.


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

5 responses »

  1. Re: Michael Keaton, his film career seemed to go off the rails ever since the notoriously bad late 1990s children’s flick ‘Jack Frost’. The 2000s were basically a wipeout with films widely seen as forgettable fluff (Herbie: Fully Loaded). The Robocop remake earlier this year was a small step in a comeback imo but this looks like this is his overdue return to the big time.

  2. Downey is clearly gunning with The Judge. It looks too standard to get him anywhere, but the town loves him.

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